Friday, August 29, 2008

I Had A Dream

I knew it was ready.

I plugged in my headphones and listened to check the levels. As I listened I forgot what I was supposed to be checking and found I was just hearing the song. Emotions welled up inside me as I was catapulted back into my days working around Europe and the fractured emails and texts that make up some of the lyrics. It was all about the distance: the distance between people who are doing what they love but cannot be together. It made me think about the future too - and how it would happen all over again.

It's ready, please listen and enjoy:

Lightkeeper MP3 (3'40)

NB To get more of an album vibe, then you should also download The Prophet and The End Of The World Part II which come before and after it respectively.

Next job is to record Until We Pass This Way Again - as a DJ would say... Stay tuned!


I hope that you got home okay,
I had a coffee in Stockholm,
There are riots in Estonia,
And somewhere we are still at war.

I had a dream,
That I was the lightkeeper,
A beacon in the night,
I was the lightkeeper.

I've a fantasy to share with you,
But it's cold and it's wet,
They're burning cars at the airport,
But I can still get your text.

And I had a dream,
That I was the lightkeeper,
A beacon in the night,
I was the lightkeeper.

And the beautiful people were everywhere,
But they had no faces,
And you were blinded by the light,
And could only feel.

But you found me by my energy,
The days are long without you.
It's funny how when you find it,
You just can't live without it.

And I had a dream,
That I was the lightkeeper,
A beacon in the night,
I was the lightkeeper.

I hope that you got home okay,
I had a coffee in Stockholm,
There are riots in Estonia,
And somewhere, we are still at war...

(D. Callow / G.A. Staiger)

Next gigs (not all in London!!):

31st August, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living Room, 18-26 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LN

6th September, 7.30pm
Lesstival, somewhere in Kent
The most minimal festival of 2008, it's small, but beautifully formed.

17th September, 8.00pm
The Chequers, 58-62 Carter St, Fordham, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5JT
Taking my urban songs to a rural setting.

25th September, 9.30pm
The White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, E1 4TP
Open mic night at the White Hart

2nd November, 8.30pm
The Horn, Victoria Street, St. Albans, AL1 3TE
Featured artist slot at this excellent St. Albans music venue.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Live On Your iPod

Well here it is. The videos are still a little way off, but the MP3 files are here (courtesy of Joel Armsden of I've also put together a cover with a live shot (from a previous gig) by Kris Gruber. I will probably do a second cover once I have a decent video still, so then you'll have a choice.

Enough preamble though, here are the 5 MP3 files (six tracks) for you to listen to. I've done a small commentary on each track below, but if you want to listen before being influenced by what I have to say then here you go:

Live In The Urban Jungle

1. The End Of The World Part I (Live) 4'35 (D. Callow)
2. The Prophet / Lightkeeper (Live) 7'11 (D. Callow)
3. Until We Pass This Way Again (Live) 4'20 (D. Callow)
4. When The Snow Fell In Denver (Live) 6'42 (D. Callow)
5. The Fool I Am (Live) 4'14 (D. Callow)

All songs recorded live at Monkey Chews, London, UK on 19th August 2008 performed by and copyright Daren Callow and mixed by Joel Armsden.

Okay, there are the tunes. Before I write a little bit about each song I just wanted to say that all these songs are pretty much as you would have heard them on the night (barring a few level adjustments) - there are NO overdubs and NO backing tracks. The extra noises and guitar lines were all played by me live on the night... I'll explain more as I cover each song.

1. The End Of The World Part I

I wrote this song whilst watching 28 Days Later, and originally it was going to be about environmental issues, but I decided that was just way too cliched, so instead it's about something else entirely. Please excuse my preamble on the MP3 file, I was a bit nervous to start with. The song features my tambourine (played with my foot, and cunningly taped to the floor this time!) and the Boss Loop Station (sampling footpedal) towards the end (the layered guitar parts, the first of which I play by hitting the strings with my hand). There are a couple of small mistakes, but I think I get away with it... just!

Interesting fact - the line "How can we stop you screaming" is influenced by Whitley Strieber's book - Communion.

2. The Prophet / Lightkeeper

There are two songs for the price of one here, but they can't be easily separated as they run into each other. The Prophet is a new song which heavily features my clever voice box and the Loop Station again. Lightkeeper is a song inspired by travelling with the Pet Shop Boys in 2006 / 2007. I really was in Estonia you know... I just about get the join between the two songs okay, but you can hear a slight click.

Interesting fact - the spoken words at the end of The Prophet are "Keine Krieg mehr bitte" - it's my pigeon German and was inspired by the man who decapitated the waxwork of Adolf Hitler in the German version of Madame Tussauds - it's supposed to mean "No more war thank you" but my German is not that good.

3. Until We Pass This Way Again

My second favourite song on this recording, this is the most recent song I've written. It's a kind of modern folk tune. Nothing much more to say other than it's about the passage of time, oh and I totally mess up the start!

Interesting fact: The noise at the end is Joel's dinner arriving. You'll see this on the video!

4. When Then Snow Fell In Denver

Please excuse the slightly cringe-worthy introduction! Also I mess up the start as I'm trying to play and tap a half-tempo rhythm with my foot at the same time! (I've changed the settings now so I can tap full tempo) Fortunately I didn't muck the ending up, which is my favourite piece of music (of mine) at the moment. The guitar layers are created with the Loop Station and the backing vocals and infinite echoes with my voice box. The backing vocals are mixed a little bit high for me, but they represent what you would have heard live, so I've not changed them. This song was the runt of the Lullabies From The Wheels Of The Bus litter, but I've grown to love it. I especially enjoy singing all the weird harmonies at the end. The kick drum is also supplied by the Loop Station, and it's always a good feeling when I turn it up to find that I've actually played in time!!

Interesting fact: It's entirely possible that I wrote this song in Detroit and not in Denver at all... oh, and it didn't actually snow.

5. The Fool I Am

Last song of the set, and a bit rushed as the adrenaline was definitely flowing after playing the end of Denver. This song is not about what you think it is.

Interesting fact: Someone in the audience was so amazed that I'd actually reached the end of the song that they broke a glass in celebration at the start.



P.S. If you don't have an MP3 player and would like a CD of this concert then just let me know your address and PayPal me a minimum donation of £2 and it shall be yours! PayPal button is at the bottom of this page: Music - and my email is music @ darencallow . co . uk - just remove the spaces. Oh, you'll also find lots of other files and album artwork to download on that page.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Man, One Guitar, Five Nights...

Well I made it intact, five gigs in six days - including one in a shed. For those that missed it, here is a quick catch-up.

Unwrong Quiz, Montague Arms

Recently declared the Best Pub In Britain by the Rough Guide to Pubs - this eclectic pub is home to some of the best alternative and cross-over entertainment in the UK. The evening was a new version of the Unwrong Quiz night hosted by the unfathomable Mark Quinn, and unstoppable Frog Morris. As usual I was the serious music filler in a comedy sandwich and the audience barely knew what to make of me. It was a fun night all the same and it was great to play two long sets as well as debut our new song in tribute to the magnificent Montague - (Woo Hoo At The Montague!).

Highlights - Watching people sing along with All I Want Is You. Giggling my way through Woo Hoo. Finishing the complicated back-to-back songs The Prophet/Lightkeeper to stunned silence!

Frogstock, Blo Norton

In some ways I should have been prepared having done so many nights with Frog and his friends in pubs across London, but nothing really prepares you for Frogstock. Despite it's scaled down and re-branded appearance this year - as Acoustock - it's still a great event. It's almost too much to Blog in detail here, but suffice to say that the evening started with peacocks on the roof, an art tent and Quinn vs. Quinn Olympics (!) and ended with a live rave in a shed and blazing braziers and fire-jugglers lighting up the night.

My own contribution was very much in the middle of the evening, and with a wonderfully Heath Robinson boom mic stand rigged up I played though eight or so of my best songs as the sun began to set. It was great to be part of the evening and so good that everyone played drums and percussion and many acts formed loose bands as the night wore on.

Needless to say I was very tired the next day, but somehow made it to the train and back to rainy London.

Highlights - All I Want Is Stu - with THE Stuart himself on the duck maraca! Accidentally becoming one of the Blo Boys for life by joining in on their rendition of Angry Badger. The aforementioned shed-rave, with live rapping, beat box, and full band... IN A SHED!! When Frog poured a pint of real ale over my head... I knew it was a top night.

15 Minute Club, Prohibition

From the sublime and ridiculous to the sublime and sophisticated. Despite being somewhat tired (but fortunately not particularly hungover) - I was happy to be able to play at this very well organised night again. You get four songs and they went well if not particularly special. They invited me back, so it must have been okay.

Highlights - All the nice people I met, including Rae, Lawrence, Josh and all the performers.

Fiver Programme recording, The Duchess

Wow, this is turning into a long post... are you still with me?! So Monday night comes around and it's time to return to an old haunt - The Duchess pub in Battersea Park. Lurking in the shadow of Battersea Power Station this is the usual venue for the Thursday night open mic sessions, but this was Monday - so what was happening? Well as part of a TV show for Fiver an open mic night was required as a backdrop and my friend Will O'Durkan had been approached to put on an ad-hoc "open mic" night at this picturesque venue. So Will called, and we all responded - arriving in the early evening with our guitars and songs ready and a few nerves in the stomach. Now I've been filmed before and despite a slight fluttering in the stomach I'm usually not too badly effected, but this was for TV and we were all keen to impress, not just to do Will proud, but to give ourselves a chance of being on the goggle-box. The anticipation continued as we greeted fellow performers and signed release forms, it was odd to be involved in an open mic night where everyone was there by invitation. I cooled myself off by stepping out into the beer garden for a while and considered what two songs I might perform to impress, but not over do it. Nerves would make some songs difficult so I decided on a middle route... up tempo, but not over complicated.

As we all know, in life there are no re-takes, but on TV... well it's just re-take after re-take. Will started the evening off, only to be asked to do it all again, and again... until the producer was satisfied. Ashley - the first act - kicked off, and played well despite having had his wisdom teeth extracted only a day or two before. I was to be the third act...

...and my turn duly arrived (after the sublime Katie and Si) - and guess what?! Yep, the TV cameras all disappeared into the beer garden to film the "best friends" talking about their performance to come. Typical huh? So whatever editing takes place, you won't see me perform on TV (yet) - you might well hear me in the background and you will certainly see me standing at the bar and drinking Guinness (looking pretty good in my Jeffrey Bryant styled outfit, if I do say so myself) - so what can you do? Despite that it was a really good fun night, it was great to see Will and some of the other performers again - perhaps I should suggest to Will that he has invitational evenings more often!

Highlights - Katie and Si performing perfectly as always. Watching the poor girl who's TV show it was having to do re-take after re-take as they tried to capture her performance from every angle.

Live Recording, Monkey Chews

You'd think that that would be enough for one weekend... but no! I'd arranged to head up to Monkey Chews on the Tuesday to get a recording of my live set (and a video too). It all come together pretty well on the night (you will be able to hear the results later today), so I won't say much. I'll let you decide how I did.

Highlights - Seeing and old friend. Giving out a world record 14 CDs after the show. Getting slowly sozzled on white wine knowing that I'd had a really good 6 days.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We're S - H - O - P - P - I - N - G we're..., yup.

Rendezvous... Twelve noon... Oxford Circus... outside H&M... okay, on the face of it it doesn't sound too promising, but when the man you are meeting is the stylist, costume designer and wardrobe genius behind the the Rolling Stones (Voodoo Lounge 1984, Bridges of Babylon 1997), Pet Shop Boys (Discovery 1994, Nightlife 2001, Fundamental 2006-7), Tina Turner (Private Dancer 2001), Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun 1994) and Duran Duran (2008) then its a whole different manner... this is practically a once in a lifetime event... even for someone like me that really does not enjoy shopping.

Suffice to say that Jeffreeeeey (for that is his name, albeit with less e's) is a gentleman, a scream, a god of fashion and a total and utter star. Want to see the results...?!

Well come down to a gig... ha ha.


P.S. Or look out for the videos after Tuesday's recording.

P.P.S. Okay, perhaps that was too much of a tease, so here is a pic:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Here There And Everywhere

This weekend brings an exciting set of gigs, a mini-tour even. It all starts this Thursday 14th when I return to the Montague Arms in New Cross for a brand new Unwrong Quiz night. For those that don't know, the Unwrong Quiz is the invention of Frog Morris and Mark Quinn and involves rounds of questions which have no wrong or right answers! Instead prizes are given for creativity and humour (the more surreal the better) - which invariably means that everyone gets a prize. It's a funny and stimulating night, and what's more you get to see me play too! I will be doing at least two regular sets and then one set of sing-a-long favourites (Angry Badger etc...) to round off the whole evening. It's all good clean fun (mostly), and should be doubly so this time as fellow Blogger - Trixie - will be there with her sisters to celebrate her birthday (perhaps some other Bloggers too). Do come along and be part of it all! The Montague Arms is at 289 Queens Road, New Cross SE15 2PA - it's £3 on the door (£2 Concessions) and entertainment starts about 8.30pm.

After I've recovered from all the mayhem, I'll be catching a train out to the wilds of Blo Norton, near Diss (not dat, diss!) for the remains of Frogstock. Which is not much after the local council got a bit fed up last time, so it's been re-christened Acoustock this year, and apparently I have to play songs in the key of D, although I forget why.

After training it back from Diss, I'll be tubing it down to London Bridge to play 15 Minutes @ Prohibition on Sunday 17th, which is certainly somewhat different from a field in Norfolk. This is a showcase night for the best in acoustic music from the capitol. I will be getting my fifteen minutes, so why not come down and take a listen. I'm taking my VoiceLive box down this time and I promise to make it an unforgettable 900 seconds. Think you've seen singer-songwriters before?! Well if you've never seen a performer play guitar and sing whilst triggering 4 part harmonies from a computer, layering loops from a phrase sampler AND playing tambourine with his foot, then you have not seen this one! Prohibtion is in St. Katherine's docks near Tower Bridge. Be there from 8pm - entry is free, and the food is good too.

As if that were not all enough, I will be capping this mini-tour off by recording it for posterity. Tuesday 19th will see me playing at Monkey Chews in Chalk Farm, where the set will be recorded and videoed, so those that can't make it will have the chance to see me on YouTube and listen on the internet. To be a part of the recording, please be at the venue by 8pm prompt! As an incentive to attend, everyone who comes will get a copy of the set on CD - bargain!

Btw, at all these gigs I will be giving out my CD samplers and taking emails for my mailing list. If you cannot make it, but would like a CD please email me (music @ darencallow . co . uk - remove the spaces!).

Somebody Loves Me

Small things mean so much when you are a musician and songwriter. This morning someone on Last FM clicked a small icon to say that they "loved" one of my tracks. Thank you Samantha829x - you made my day! Btw, the track in question was After All - which in some ways leads me nicely on to...

Farewell Peacharse

My very bestest friend (f) and the reason why I am blogging here at all, is putting down her metaphorical pen for a while. She's soon to become a mother for the very first time and, as I'm sure many of you know, becoming a parent is not easy at the best of times but has been particularly fraught for Peachy, and it's understandable that she might need a break from being the UK's 50th most influential blogger (and as if this sentence wasn't long enough already, she has also had to change job and is currently buying a new place to live - world's three most stressful things anyone?!). She has hinted that she may return with a Baby Blog, but for now farewell. I love you sweetie, thanks for introducing me to this weird and wonderful world of Weblogs - come back soooooooon! Oh, and buy her book!!!!!!

Head here to send her some love of your own:

That's all (for now) folks!


STOP PRESS - As if that were not all enough, I have just found out this morning that on Monday I'll be performing at an ad-hoc Open Mic night for the benefit of Channel 5 cameras!! They are filming a new show called Best Friends Rehab and on the show a girl plays at an open mic night... well you get the drift. Should be on TV next year... HOW EXCITING IS THAT!!!!!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Day In The Smoke

The morning was barely stretching it's limbs as we emerged from London Bridge station. A short hop, skip and jump past one of my favourite views anywhere (across London Bridge towards Tower Bridge), a rumble along the tube from Bank and we're jumping in a car near Bethnal Green tube and heading for eagerly anticipated (especially by the drooling canines in the car) green spaces.

Minutes later we are walking happily on Hackney Marshes. One of London's hidden emeralds. A lush green space replete with a river (the Lea), wetlands (some thanks to bomb craters from back when the marshes were the destination of choice for unexploded WWII bombs), horses and gaggles of dog walkers. A little taste of old London that left us smiling, recharged and already looking forward to a return. Even one of England's typical summer downpours could not dampen our mood.

After this we took a trip in a vintage BMW into the art gallery district of Bethnal Green. Slight disappointment on realising that there were actually no exhibitions on, was tempered by a visit to an eclectic bar near Red Church Street. After this we went out separate ways, and my journey took me home again to (much needed) extra practice!

The evening brought me another journey back into town. This time to West Brompton and another (this time rainbow coloured) London gem that is The Troubadour. I was here to see the uber-busker Hadar Manor play in the basement venue. The gig was great fun, and my friend Wayne (Fit And The Conniptions) outdid himself with some quite excellent playing on his brand new Ibanez semi-acoustic. Praise must also go to the wonderful soul singer who (unaccompanied) entertained and amused us before Hadar's set. She had been pulled in at the last minute (hence the lack of band) when the Aussies who were supposed to be performing were turned back by UK Immigration!

After this entertaining (if expensive) evening, I trundled home via the Tube and tram (yeah, we are dead European here in Croydon) - with my thoughts occupied by new song ideas and visions of London past.


Next gigs:

14th August 2008, 8.30pm
Montague Arms, New Cross

17th August 2008, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition
Prohibition Bar & Grill, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, East Smithfield, E1W 1AA

19th August 2008, 7.30pm
Monkey Chews, 2 Queen's Crescent, Chalk Farm, NW5 4DT

31st August, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living room
18-26 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LN

Saturday, August 02, 2008

White Noise

Three venues, three events.

Wednesday: The Blag Club in Notting Hill

A small venue hidden behind a wooden door, incongruously located next to Rymans. I'm early (as always), nervous about the new technology I'm using tonight. The soundcheck is quick, patchy, I'm not sure how it's going to sound. I have to remove all my equipment, this makes it worse, what if some important knob or switch gets knocked, some vital setting changed. I try not to worry, check out the other acts soundchecks and sit back to wait my turn to play.

The other acts do their bit - it's a hard night. The venue has bare walls, there is a birthday party in, the noise of the crowd is almost painful. It's supposed to be an acoustic venue, but the acoustics are amplifying the crowd's chatter, strangling the artists on the stage. Mentally I'm readjusting my set, putting in louder songs, resolving to stick to my guns as much as I can, use the technology. This is what I do, I've practised very hard for this moment, my 25 minutes of infamy infront of a largely indifferent group of individuals.

It's time, I move to the stage, feverishly plugging in leads, checking settings, double-checking tunings. Oh to have just a guitar and plug in and play. Too late. It strikes my frenzied brain that the electronics don't care about the crowd and their noise. The harmony voices are ready to soar above them, to follow my every utterance with a relish undimmed. The distortion pedal is ready to break up my guitar's beautiful tones, throw clipped rock notes into the space. A calm comes over me - what do I care? I have something to share. Songs based on experience, honed by a hundred performances, a thousand hours of sweaty practice. Here we go. I say something in the mic. A camera clicks in my face, the video rolls. I hit a G chord. It begins.

Thursday: The White Hart

Peace. Another upstairs room, a cool escape from the muggy Whitechapel streets. There is rain outside, I don't care. I'm onstage, playing to a hushed room. Every eye (mostly) on me, every ear sparing some listening space to hear the notes I'm creating. It's a new song. Delicate, picked guitar notes. A folky melody - not like me at all. But I play with confidence and feel relaxed. I'm relishing the silence in the room, using it, filling it. Letting notes ring longer, holding sustained notes, feeling my way. No electronics tonight, just a guitar, a voice and a tambourine. I didn't think it would be like this, I wish I had my electronics (the irony is not lost on me). It doesn't matter though, the songs work, stripped down, or padded up. The lyrics taste good on my tongue. How many hours have I worked on these lines? Every word has a value.

It's the last song, sweat pours off my face into my eye, it stings. I'm standing on one leg, playing tambourine with the other, playing guitar with both hands, singing, sweating. I close one eye, the pain doesn't go away. It's the hardest part of the simplest of songs. Try and stay with it! Try and finish well, you've worked hard. My fingers slip, but it's okay. It's near enough for rock'n'roll. I finish. I wipe my eyes dry. Sweat and tears? I leave the stage, heading towards the friendly welcoming eyes, and a slightly warm pint of Guinness. Not perfect, but still good. Deserved, I think.

Friday: Elevator Gallery

A night off. Beautiful company. A boat on the Thames, a glass of wine. A cocktail at the O2 dome, accompanied by Kylie. She's somewhere in the building, but we're in the bar. Tube - train. A lift in a warehouse, it's a performance night. There is a girl in the corridor, she's deep into a role. It's scary, too much to take. In the main space a man is playing a violin through a Heath Robinson invention, cassette tape machine innards ripped out and lashed together. Perhaps it's more Frankenstein? The noise comes down through loudspeakers in the ceiling. White noise. You can't avoid it. It's too much for tonight, too intense. We leave soon after we arrive, back into the cool air. The journey home is slightly too long. It's good to be home though. Very, very good.

Tomorrow the work starts again.